Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams
Plimouth Dec. 21 1780
My Dear Mrs. Adams
I should have wrote before according to promiss, but have been prevented the use of my Eyes by a Cold fixing there and Even now believe I had better not write, but unless I do your Excelency may think it too Great Condesention to inquire after the Cottagers, at Plimouth.
You have spent a week at Boston, and what think you of affairs now. I dare say you have Collected many Curious annecdotes, and have had opportunities of observing much on the Manners, [. . .] petition,1 inclinations and Adulation of the times.
We have scarcly heard from the Capital since we left it, and so totally secluded is this place from any thing that passes in the rest of the World, that only one Common News paper has found Its way hither since we were at your house. Yet I have more than a Ballance for all the Amusements the City or the Court can give, when my best Friend is my Companion, my Children are well, and Domestic peace reigns under my Roof.
Have you found an opportunity to forward my letter to my son, and do you hear any thing to be Communicated from yours or their Good father.
I forgot to ask when at Braintree why you was so solicitous when at Plimouth for the Copy of a letter to my son on his reading of Chesterfeild. Whither Mrs. Adams had made any use of it, and what, and if she had done with it to return the Manuscript.2
Tomorrow is a sort of Festival in this town.3 I Wish you and yours and some other Choice Friends were hear to make it truly so.
A thousand Reflections might occupy the Mind on this occasion, and then I beleive I must keep them and hasten to shut my Eyes, least I should not be able to read your Epistles which I soon Expect.
Love to My Dear Naby from your assured & affectionate friend,
A Word or two on Trade and Commerce. Have not sold a single Article nor Can. The town is full of Hank a[chiefs.]4 Your price is too high. They are dull at a Doller. But shall not sell so without your order. I will send the Apron by Mr. Warren. You need not send the silk till I Call for it. Perhaps I may prefer the taking some other article in Lieu therof.
What did my Freind do with a billet Left to her care for my sister. She never Recevd it.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Abigail Adams Foot of Pens hill Braintree Favd. by Mr. Green.”
1. Word partly covered by seal.
2. Mercy Warren’s epistolary essay on Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his natural son, 24 Dec. 1779, a copy of which re-mains among the Adams Papers. See AA to Mrs. Warren, 28 Feb. and 1 Sept., both in vol. 3 above, and, for the publication of the essay in a Boston newspaper, AA to Nathaniel Willis?, ante 4 Jan. 1781, below.
3. The earliest American annual patriotic “Festival,” Forefathers’ Day was celebrated at Plymouth on 22 Dec., beginning in 1769 under the convivial sponsorship of the Old Colony Club. (The Club had a short life, but its role as sponsor was later taken over by the Pilgrim Society.) The date chosen was supposed to be the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims at “Forefathers’ Rock” (later called Plymouth Rock), given by William Bradford in his History as 11 Dec. 1620. Forgetting, or not knowing, that the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars in the 17th century was ten rather than eleven days as in the 18th century, the promoters of the celebration made an error of a day (it should have been the 21st), which later occasioned a warm dispute among antiquarians. The records of the Old Colony Club, 1769–1773, are printed in MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 2d ser., 3 [1886–1887]:382–444. For the dispute over the date, in which JQA found himself somewhat ludicrously involved, see same, vol. 20 [1906–1907]:237–238.
4. MS torn.